They really are, aren’t they?! The most common summer veggie question I get asked is, ‘What’s wrong with my tomatoes?’ So here are reminders, tips to keep your plants healthy and in strong production!
In areas with wilts in the soil, plant only toms that have resistance or tolerance to the wilts; avoid heirlooms. Jetsetter, an early season tom, is grand. Click here for a list of excellent varieties!
If you have the wilts or blights in your soil 1) Don’t pinch off the lower leaves to plant your transplant deeper! Those open pinch wounds would then be in the soil where the fungi are. They say the fungi is taken up by the leaves, but an open wound, in the soil? NO. 2) Do not pinch out the suckers (the little branches between a big branch and the main stem) as your plant grows because that makes wounds where the airborne fungi can enter your plant. 3) When your plants get taller, DO prune off lower branches that water having soil borne fungi could splash onto. This is obviously a trade off – no splash on leaves versus wounds open to wind borne fungi.
Do not let plants touch each other and spread the wilts.
When your plant gets about a foot tall, water around your plant but not at its central stem. It has a good deep root and can get water below the fungi zone. Some people simply dry farm toms, especially when they start producing, saying that makes the flavor more intense.
Keep your soil evenly moist. It avoids blossom-end rot.
Rap the tom cage or trellis, central stem, sharply, middayish, to increase pollination! Not only do you get more tomatoes, but they are the right shape! More pollination makes more seeds. Plant plenty of flowering plants for pollinators! If you want less seeds, let nature take its course – no rapping.
Temps are crucial! Tomatoes are not happy when there are
High daytime temperatures (above 85 F)
High Nighttime Temperatures (above 70 F)
Low Nighttime Temperatures (below 55 F)
True, tomatoes are heat lovers, but per the University of NV, temperatures over 104 F, for only four hours, the flowers abort! Your plant goes into survival mode, stops production. Why wait when it gets HOT and your tomato stops setting fruit?! Get heat tolerant varieties! Check out this nifty page of options at Bonnie Plant! Plant “heat set” varieties like Florasette, Heat Wave, Solar Set, Sunchaser, Sunmaster, Sunpride, Surfire. If you didn’t plant a heat tolerant variety, don’t think is a quitter and pull it. When things cool down, it will start making flowers and setting fruit again. Whew!
High nighttime temps are even worse than high daytime temperatures because your plant never gets to rest.
Conversely, in the spring, wait until nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55 F or protect them with a cover at night. Choose early maturing varieties like Early Girl, Legend, Matina, Oregon Spring, Polar Baby, Silvery Fir Tree, Jetsetter.
Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes. What would life be like without home grown tomatoes? Only two things that money can’t buy. That’s true love and home grown tomatoes. (John Denver)